Friday, August 18, 2017

Almost impossible to believe these covers would be printed

Illegal workers

Studies have shown that there are about 8 million immigrants working in the U.S. with false or no papers, and, surprisingly to me, it seems that they’re more likely to get hurt or killed on the job than other workers. But almost all 50 states, including Florida, have given these workers the right to receive workers’ comp. 

I guess Florida has a real thing about immigrant workers. They have made it a crime to file a workers’ comp claim using false identification. This has been good for insurance companies as they often report these workers to the state, thereby not having to pay for injured immigrant workers’ lost wages and medical care. 

Workers have been charged with felony workers’ comp fraud even though their injuries are real and happened on the job. Immigrants can be charged with workers’ comp fraud even if they’ve never been injured or filed a claim because legislators also made it illegal to use a fake ID to get a job. In many cases, the state’s insurance fraud unit has conducted unusual sweeps of work sites, arresting a dozen employees for workers’ comp fraud after merely checking their Social Security numbers.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Music can help in tough times

Tonight, I watched a PBS fundraiser with Peter, Paul and Mary. It was old. It reminded me of the troubles we had in the 60s and beyond, be it war, racism and a whole lot of problems. But then we acted. We did not simply castigate the opposition. Many of the musicians worked hard to change things, to make this a better country. Other than the late night tv hosts, I don't see many of the musicians of today doing much to make this a better world. Peter, Paul and Mary did try.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Give me everything you have

That's what the Department of Justice (DOJ) has said to DreamHost, a Los Angeles-based web hosting company. DOJ has asked the company for more than 1.3 million IP addresses to identify visitors to a website set up to coordinate protests on Inauguration Day .

The company argues that DOJ's search warrant is not only dealing with everything in relation to the website but also tons of data about people who visited it. The warrant is also asking for emails between the site’s organizers and people interested in attending the protests, any deleted messages and files, as well as subscriber information — such as names and addresses — and unpublished photos and blog posts that are stored in the site’s database.

Have you ever seen a white moose?

Want some fruitcake?

The above photo is of a fruitcake that is over 100 years-old. It was found in Antarctica, the coldest, windiest, and driest place on Earth, in a hut used by a British explorer during an expedition in the early 1900s. The finders claim that the cake, which was wrapped in paper and the remains of a tin, is in "excellent condition," and looks and smells almost edible.

Is this the right thing to do?

Supposedly antifascist protesters tore down a Confederate statue in Durham, NC. Did they not break the law by destroying government property?

Monday, August 14, 2017

Why would you get a margin loan?

Stock brokers have been pushing securities based loans (margin loans) for quite some time. And they've been succeeding. Margin debt went from $153 billion in January 1999 to $278.5 billion by March of 2000. It may be of interest that the bust started soon after. The loans are being pushed to cover a wide range of activities - mortgage funding, tax liabilities, weddings, graduations, to buy more securities, vacations. They differ in a very important ways from your typical bank loan. Each month’s interest is added to the loan balance, thus compounding the interest expense. Borrowers have no protection from actions taken by broker-dealers to preserve their collateral. Loan accounts are susceptible to forced liquidation at unfavorable prices because, as the value of the securities declines, the borrower must either deposit additional collateral (which he often does not have) or sell multiples of the amount of his margin call. Furthermore, the broker can effect these sales without contacting or seeking the permission of the borrower. The broker can even choose unilaterally which securities it wishes to sell. 

So, why are margin loans now at a record high of over a half-billion dollars?

A Real Storm

Thoughts on Confederate Monuments

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Who is to blame? Why did it happen?

When someone is killed by the police, the question of who to blame is always raised. Never is the question of why it happened asked. Yet, if there is a plane crash, the TSA does ask the why question and conducts a very thorough investigation. The investigations ares so effective that for the last several years, the death rate from crashes of American commercial planes has been zero. Whereas, police officers in the United States now kill about 1,000 people and wound more than 50,000 every year.

Many of these killings happen during a routine traffic stop. A warrant is not required to search a car; the search efforts often trigger a confrontation. And there are many routine traffic stops. The Bureau of Justice says that about 26 million Americans were pulled over by police officers in 2011 alone — that’s over 10 percent of the population aged 16 and older. Of course, because of racial bias, a disproportionate number of those people are minorities.

Which will strike first?

Keeping the board in the loop

The Federal Reserve thinks that a bank's board is wasting time on regulatory issues, which distract the board from guiding bank strategy and adopting effective governance at their institutions. Now, Fed examiners report all regulatory matters requiring corrective action to a bank’s board as well as its senior management. The Fed wants to leave it to senior management to keep the institution’s board apprised of its efforts and its progress to remediate matters requiring attention.

The board of directors would still be responsible for holding senior management accountable for fixing supervisory flaws. This seems strange to me as who guarantees that management will tell the board.

Thursday, August 10, 2017


That stands for Foreign Military Training. Since 9/11, we have spent more than $250 billion training foreign military and police personnel in a variety of programs, such as International Military Education Training (IMET) and CTFP (Combating Terrorism Fellowship Program). Year after year, we train 200,000, from 154 countries, of these soldiers and security officers. 

Sometimes the training doesn't work out too well. According to official U.S. government documents, at least 17 high-ranking foreigners -- including five generals -- trained through IMET between 1985 and 2010 were later accused and in some cases convicted of criminal and human rights abuses. An open-source study by the non-profit Center for International Policy found another 33 U.S.-trained foreign military officers who later committed human rights abuses. 

There have been 275 military-backed coups worldwide between 1970 and 2009. In 165 (60%) of them, members of that country’s armed forces had received some IMET training the year before the coup. They succeeded in overthrowing their governments in 72 (43%) of the 165 coup attempts.

“There are no standard guidelines for determining the goals of [counter-terrorism] security assistance programs, particularly partner capacity-building training programs, or for assessing how these programs fit into broader U.S. foreign policy objectives,” reads a 2016 Center for a New American Security report. “And there are few metrics for measuring the effectiveness of these programs once they are being implemented.”